I'm blaming it on the fact that we're not taking pride in guarding the ball individually. That's got to be a must for you to be a good defensive team. ... It came down to our defense. We just had so many breakdowns. Again, on the ball defense, where we are just not taking pride in guarding. We got to get better. To me that was the difference in the game.
On the season, New York ranks 28th in the league in defensive efficiency, per NBA.com. Its defensive rating of 105.4 sits ahead of only the tanking Utah Jazz and the similarly disintegrating Brooklyn Nets.
The Knicks offense has dropped 20 spots from last season (3 to 23), while their defense has dropped 10 spots (18 to 28).— Tas Melas (@TasMelas) December 2, 2013
Tyson Chandler's absence has definitely contributed to the Knicks' poor play on the defensive end, but Woodson didn't cite his missing center as the main reason for the team's struggles.
On the one hand, Woody deserves credit for eschewing excuses.
On the other, blaming a lack of pride presumes that there aren't strategic changes that could help address the problem. He's not giving up, but comments like that don't inspire confidence that he's got a plan to fix what's ailing the Knicks.
Defense, like offense, requires some element of "want to," but it also helps if there's a coherent scheme and players understand their roles within it.
So far, New York has looked like a jumbled mess. Players are constantly throwing their hands up, glaring at one another after confused rotations and even getting into verbal spats on the bench.
Per Begley, J.R. Smith said: "I don't know what the hell I was doing on defense."
It's not good in New York. Not good at all.
But hey, at least Andrea Bargnani is playing the best D of his career. So, there's that.